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Fiction Book Review: Christmas With Tucker by Greg Kincaid – Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie-Inspired
You know you’re in for an emotional read with any Hallmark-inspired story. Greg Kincaid continues the tradition with his new book, Christmas with Tuckerdriven by the bestseller, A Dog Named Christmaswhich became a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie in 2009, capturing over 12 million US viewers.
Sixty-something George McCray is expecting a Christmas visit from his mother at his dairy farm in Crossing Trails, Kansas. She now suffers from memory loss. To aid his remembrance, he selected key McCray family keepsakes, including a dog named Tucker’s collar, his grandfather’s pewter mug, and the last jigsaw puzzle his father, John, gave to grandfather. Cora mother.
These objects come to life as George recounts the winter of 1962, waiting for his mother to arrive. It was then that at thirteen years old, George grew from a boy to a young man.
In June, George’s father died in a tractor accident on the farm, deeply affecting the McCray family. George lived with his parents, sisters Hannah and Trisha and grandfather Bo and grandmother Cora McCray.
At the end of the summer, George’s mother and college-aged sisters ventured to Minnesota to be near his parents. Everyone, including George, thought it best for him to stay on the farm until Christmas, help run the McCray dairy farm; and adjusting to life without her father.
Kincaid takes you deep into the young world of George; and describes the impact a four-year-old Irish setter has on his life.
Neighbor Frank Thorne asks the McCray family to look after his nameless dog while he serves time for drunk and disorderly conduct at the local jail. Find out how Tucker earned his name while staying with the McCrays.
Initially, George is reluctant to befriend the dog, whom he regularly sees from afar before boarding his school bus each morning; attached to a circular chain. It doesn’t take long before the two become inseparable, sharing a warm bed together during freezing Kansas nights. Tucker is loyally there for George, as he often contemplates the loss of his father and the unfairness of life.
Central America, simpler times prevail. Grandma Cora is quietly working at the puzzle table. She builds challenging puzzles which, until her death, her son John provided. Grandpa Bo drinks every day from the pewter mug that has belonged to the McCray family for generations. He also makes a leather collar; displaying “Tucker McCray”, once, following a turn of events, George becomes the owner of the Irish ferryman.
Discover the realities of life on the farm. George gets up at 4:30 a.m. every day to help Grandpa Bo milk the cows before going to school. It’s a generational chore he inherited after his father’s untimely death.
Also feel the cattle’s affinity for walking on frozen pond water, which often results in death when the ice breaks and they are unable to escape. Kincaid describes George’s harrowing attempt to save the animals, while enduring frostbite and bleeding bare feet.
Cherokee County, Kansas experiences one of its worst winter storms just days before Christmas. With roads blocked by snow, many residents are on their own. Grandpa Bo decides it’s time to teach George how to operate the gigantic machine, named a maintainer (today’s grader), to help clear the roads. “My grandfather used to give me a new rule book for adults so I could get rid of the childish primer that had let me down so much that year. I learned to be wary of rules rooted in law. and my needs, and instead to abide by the rules sealed by truth and concern for others.”
The spirit of Christmas alludes to George, given the death of his father and mixed feelings about returning to Minnesota to live with his mother: “Christmas, it seemed to me that it would not be good this year. , I just knew you wouldn’t get what you wanted?”
Christmas with Tucker ends with a city-wide celebration of the season, much like It’s a wonderful life. Invest some time over the holidays and read Kincaid’s 180-page short story, which is sure to improve your Christmas.
Author Greg Kincaid lives on a farm in Kansas; and is a pet adoption advocate. To find adoptable pets near you, visit http://www.petfinder.com.
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